Zagat's Possibly Pursuing Sale


Zagat Survey, the publisher of the well-known restaurant guides bearing the founders' name, is considering a sale. The company issued a statement yesterday that said it has hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. to explore future growth possibilities for Zagat, including partnerships, joint ventures or a sale.

Founders Tim and Nina Zagat noted in the statement that 2007 was the company's best year and mentioned the success the company has had producing its content in print, digital and mobile formats. They added that they feel it is time to position Zagat Survey for further long-term growth.

Media reports estimate that a buyer could be willing to pay $200 million and that potential buyers could include IAC/InterActiveCorp. and New York Media Holdings LLC.

Zagat information covers more than 100 countries worldwide through formats including print, ZAGAT.com and ZAGAT TO GO, a service for smart phones, as well as the ZAGAT mobi mobile website. More than 300,000 surveyors supply the content.

This will certainly be an interesting development to watch. While many services that provide similar functions for free, Zagat's remains a hot property in the directory space partly because its name is synonymous with entertainment review space. Not many companies have the name recognition Zagat's does and there are likely many publishers who would be interested in taking ownership.

Zagat's has done a good job keeping up with changing technology and information needs, comfortably expanding beyond its traditional print books to launch online, and then, mobile services. So they are certainly positioned for future growth (despite increased competition from free services that offer similar offerings). If they are, in fact, sold, let's hope that the Zagat's name continues to flourish.

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